Thousands more jobs lost as rescue package launched

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Indy Politics

Almost 3,000 job cuts were announced within hours of the Government unveiling a rescue package aimed at firms hit by the financial crisis.

The biggest losses were at banking giant Barclays, which said it planned to cut 2,100 jobs at its retail and commercial banking business, while Jaguar Land Rover said it would axe 450 jobs, including 300 managers, as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

Meanwhile administrators for music, DVD and games retailer Zavvi closed another 18 UK stores with the loss of 353 jobs.

Denby Pottery, the 200-year-old pottery company, also warned of redundancies, although it is not yet known how many jobs are at risk. The firm employs 700 staff in the UK, including 500 at its factory in Denby, Derbyshire, said the tableware market had been hit by the downturn in the retail trade.

The home shopping giant Grattan raised fears that up to 3,800 jobs will be axed after unveiling "wide-ranging" proposals today aimed at stemming losses. The firm, which employs staff in Bradford, Sheffield, Peterborough and London, said all its employees had been informed that their jobs may be affected.

International pharmaceutical firm Pfizer is to cut up to 240 jobs from its UK workforce, it was announced today. Pfizer currently employs between 3,000 - 3,500 workers at its European research and development base in Sandwich, Kent, including some contracted staff.

Conveyer belt maker Fenner, which has its headquarters in Hessle, East Yorkshire, plans to axe 290 jobs because of the economic downturn. The majority of the cuts to its global workforce, which averaged 3,900 in the year to August 2008, will take place in the United States.

The losses were the latest in a growing tide of redundancies which are bringing increased levels of misery to workers across the country.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman said: "Obviously, the Government is disappointed to hear this news. All company job losses are of course regrettable.

"Jaguar Land Rover's decision today reflects the continued downturn in the market and that is a reflection of what is happening more generally in the global economy.

"The Jobcentre Plus rapid response teams will offer support and work to offer a package of measures to help those facing redundancy to find other work as quickly as possible."

Earlier, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said it was "crucial" that the Government acted now to provide help amid warnings that almost 100 smaller businesses were going bust every day.

The Government measures included loan guarantees and a new enterprise fund to help companies struggling to access finance, as well as a £10 billion working capital scheme, securing up to £20 billion of short-term bank lending to companies with a turnover of up to £500 million.

The enterprise fund will be worth £75 million, made up of £50 million from the Government and the rest from banks and will be available for small firms which urgently needed equity.

The Government also announced an enterprise finance guarantee scheme, securing up to £1.3 billion of additional bank loans to small firms with a turnover of up to £25 million.

Gordon Brown told MPs at Prime Minister's Questions that the Government was providing "real help" for businesses to deal with specific problems.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne said the Government appeared to be offering a belated version of the £50 billion loans guarantee scheme floated by the Tories several weeks ago.

The Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the announcements, but warned it was a "last throw of the dice" to unblock lending from banks to small and medium-sized enterprises.

The cuts at Jaguar Land Rover, including 150 agency white collar staff, follow the "severe reduction" in demand for new cars, said the company.

Jaguar Land Rover also announced that managers will not receive any bonuses this year, while pay rises have been deferred to October.

The move by Barclays came less than 24 hours after it confirmed proposals to cut a similar number of posts at its investment banking, Barclays Capital, and Barclays Global Investors businesses.

The latest cuts, which could affect staff in high street branches, bring the total number of job cuts announced this week by Barclays to more than 4,000.